Bushwick review: out of step with contemporary Trumpian politics

Bushwick envisages a second American Civil War in a New York borough

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Director: Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott
Cert: Club
Genre: Action
Starring: Dave Bautista, Brittany Snow, Angelic Zambrana, Jeremie Harris, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Alex Breaux, Arturo Castro
Running Time: 1 hr 34 mins

Grad student Lucy (My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Brittany Snow) is about to bring her boyfriend home for the first time when, hey, where did everybody go? Emerging from the subway station, she discovers a war-torn Brooklyn in which mysterious black-clad soldiers are shooting anyone and anything that moves.

Panicked and under fire from the military and opportunistic hoodlums, Lucy takes refuge in an underground bunker, where she is rescued by a burly, mostly monosyllabic former Marine named Stupe (Dave Bautista).

Together, they duck and take cover, as they make their way to grandma’s house, and on towards a possible evacuation zone.  Information is initially patchy. But we come to learn that this is an invasion by a mercenary militia drawn from a coalition of Good Ol’ Boy states. They had imagined that the Brooklyn neighbourhood’s ‘ethno-diversity’ would make for an easy occupation. Oh boy, did they guess wrong.

Inspired by sensationalised 2011 reports that former Texas Governor Rick Perry was advocating the state secede from the Union following the re-election of President Obama, Bushwick envisages a second American Civil War in a New York borough.


Fast, chaotic, and slightly out of step with contemporary Trumpian politics, the second feature from Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott, brings little innovation to the civil apocalypse sub-genre, but it plays the beats cheerfully and effectively, nonetheless.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night cinematographer Lyle Vincent opts for handheld mayhem and many shots of heels going up stairs and down streets. Scenes of insurrection are suitably panicked. Clever sound design allows for helicopters and gunplay that isn't always within the budget.

The dialogue in Nick Damici and Graham Reznick's commendably high-concept alternative history script could be more polished and Brittany Snow's incredibly sudden transformation from blonde damsel to revolutionary leader is clumsy. But Dave Bautista has enough charisma to atone for any and all flaws.  Even before Stupe reveals his tragic backstory, the former wrestler has won hearts and minds with doleful eyes and – perhaps unsurprisingly for an old MMA pro – a keen physical awareness.

His may well be the best performance in all competitions at Cannes. Time to stop wasting Bautista in the vast ensembles of Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Infinity War.

Interestingly, the characteristically younger crowd at the Directors’ Fortnight screening only managed a smattering of boos and a counterstrike of defiant cheers when the film’s Netflix logo appeared onscreen.

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic